Today (January 21, 2013), in the United States, there is a federal holiday recognizing the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. (who was born on January 15, 1929). Martin Luther King Jr. spoke incisively about the need for humankind to stand up straight, and the psychological consequences of failing to escape to yoke of power-over authority. He stated:
"We must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."
Allama Iqbal wrote in Baal-i-Jibreel something that speaks to an awakening that would surely birth a straight path.
"I fear not the darkness of the night;
My nature is bred in purity and light;
Wayfarer of the night! Be a lamp to thyself;
With thy passion’s flame, make thy darkness bright."
And then there is Tierno Bokar, a Muslim sufi who was born in Segou, Mali, and lived during the French colonial rule. He speaks to a subject which both Iqbal and King would have appreciated.
"Some believe that to develop is to break completely with all of one's traditions, often through 'snobbism,' in order to adopt those of a race whose ways one admire. For us, to develop is to perfect our inheritance, which is not made up merely of our homes and our fields: it is also to improve our thinking, our entire way of being.
That which fits in a country of temperate climate cannot entirely suit a tropical country. We see our Soudanese children copying Arabs or Europeans more or less awkwardly according to their upbringing. They are like those waterfalls that expend themselves in rushing uselessly over slabs of stone without ever flowing into a lake to ease their mad and fruitless course."
~ Tierno Bokar (from the highly recommended, A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar, by Amadou Hampate Ba)
Although these great persons were seemingly speaking to a specific people, about specific conditions, they were really speaking to all of humanity. May the message of these messengers find a home in hearts, and grow there.
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Notable Link: http://www.tiernobokar.columbia.edu/pdfs/estienne_bokar.pdf